NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

Madrid with half their ticket to Milan in the bag


Without Cristiano, and without Benzema for the second half (you could even say with Benzema at 50% while he was on the pitch), Real Madrid's visit Manchester City can be deemed a success. The only downside is that they couldn't come home with an away goal. But they came close a couple of times in the second half when City were evidently on the decline. A Jesé header crashed against the bar; Pepe had the clearest chance, from a corner, which Hart blocked from point-blank range; apart from that, Bale and Lucas Vázquez were brought down in the box - two cases which would have been penalties at home, but not away. Even though Madrid couldn't muster a goal for the return leg, they came away with the sensation of being the superior side.

Cristiano's absence had a clear effect on the game - in two ways. On the one hand Madrid missed his get-up-and-go in attack, his intimidating presence and continual bombardment on goal. But on the other hand, the inclusion of Lucas Vázquez, who played as well as he always does, made the team more compact, less exposed and less overworked. That also meant that they didn't control the game. City didn't press them, because their creative players were well shackled. Keylor had a relatively easygoing night, with hardly a save to make apart from one from De Bruyne from a free-kick late on. That was the best City's attack could offer.

The statistics show that from a 0-0 in the first leg, it's the team who plays the return at home who goes through 65% of the time - in Madrid's case, the percentage  is even higher: it's been enough for them to progress seven times out of eight. Madrid's optimisim will be boosted considering that Silva was forced to quit the game with a muscular injury and will likely miss the return at the BernabéuBenzema and in particular Cristiano must now take it easy for the next seven days because with the attack at full strength (Bale is playing out of his skin at the moment) Madrid shouldn't have too many problems in booking their place for the final. And with any luck, there they might meet Atlético, who take on Bayern later today, and with a long-standing score to settle ...